Humza Yousaf: Living with Covid does not mean abandoning the vulnerable

Vulnerable people will not be abandoned by the Scottish Government if Scotland tries “living with Covid”, Humza Yousaf has said.
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The Health Secretary insisted the proposed changes to further reduce restrictions and measures introduced to suppress the spread of coronavirus were not “simply throwing caution to the wind”.

He acknowledged concerns of high-risk, vulnerable Scots and their carers, but gave reassurance that there would be continued support and not all protections were being lifted.

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In a message to those “very worried” by further easing of restrictions, Mr Yousaf said: “The Scottish Government is not abandoning you.”

Speaking to the PA news agency ahead of the First Minister’s statement at Holyrood, Mr Yousaf said: “We’re going to have some element of protective measures such as, for example, I suspect wearing face coverings in certain circumstances for a while yet to come.

“Those basic mitigations are going to be important even when Covid goes from pandemic to endemic.”

Asked about the concerns of the vulnerable and people who have been shielding, he added: “I don’t doubt that people who are high risk, vulnerable or carers – I know a lot of carers have been in touch – (are concerned) but I give them a reassurance that when we talk about living with Covid, we’re not talking about simply abandoning everything, simply throwing caution to the wind.”

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The cabinet secretary was visiting Liberton Hospital in Edinburgh, meeting with healthcare staff delivering hospital-style treatment to patients at home.

The Hospital at Home service supports approximately 120 patients in the capital – with similar projects across Scotland – offering treatments usually administered in clinical settings such as intravenous antibiotics and providing oxygen to patients with breathing issues.

It comes as Mr Yousaf announced £500,000 funding for new equipment, including blood oxygen level monitors and additional staff capacity to identify patients who could be treated with antiviral medicine in an effort to reduce illness from Covid-19.

Dr Andrew Coull, a consultant geriatrician at Edinburgh’s Hospital at Home service, welcomed the financial pledge but said the service needed more “sustainable funding” over a longer period to recruit more staff.

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He added: “We could see a very large number of additional people if we had the capacity, staffing and equipment.”

Asked about the request, Mr Yousaf said: “I think it’s absolutely important that we fund this sustainably.

“That was actually one of the first things that the staff pointed out to me – that they really need that sustainable funding to make this a medium to long-term solution as opposed to just a short intervention for this kind of pressure.

“So, yes, absolutely. We will look at that sustainable funding going forward.”